Top 10 Things for Active Travelers to Do in Traverse City | Midwest Living

Top 10 Things for Active Travelers to Do in Traverse City

Stunning views of Lake Michigan reward adventure-seekers in Traverse City during an active Midwest weekend getaway.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
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Leelanau State Park
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Cherry Republic
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1) Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Some of the most spectacular scenery in Michigan lies on this 64-mile expanse of the Leelanau Peninsula—especially along Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. The massive dunes climb 500 feet, tempting visitors to race from the Lake Michigan Overlook to the lake below. (Scrambling to the top is slower going and requires significantly more effort.) (888) 334-8499;

2) TART Trail Stretching 10 miles east-west across Traverse City, TART (Traverse Area Recreation Trail) is one of several paths in a linked system that includes the Boardman Trail along the shores of Boardman Lake and the Leelanau Trail, which extends 15 miles north to Suttons Bay. Jog, bike, skate or stroll past beaches, forests, city streetscapes and residential neighborhoods. (231) 941-4300;

3) The River In the repurposed Clinch Park Zoo and Marina on downtown Traverse City’s waterfront, this outfitter supplies kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboards, float tubes and bikes for people-powered adventures. One choice: The Zero Carbon Footprint Tour consists of biking the TART Trail and kayaking back. The River also boasts a summer splash pad and a snack bar with gourmet eats. (231) 883-1413;

4) Grand Traverse Bike Tours Break up a 10-mile bike ride on picturesque country roads with wine tasting at several of the pretty wineries in Leelanau County or beer sampling at a Traverse City craft brewery. A boxed picnic lunch, pick-up service for any purchases and a shuttle back to the starting point complete the package. (231) 421-6815;

5) Harbor 22 Bar and Grill This classy gastropub brings the outdoors in with a nautical motif, bay views and menu items like smoked whitefish pâté, potato-crusted walleye and crispy fried perch. If you can tear yourself away from the seafood, the buttermilk-brined fried chicken with cracked-pepper cole slaw is outrageously good. A pint of local craft beer or a glass of Michigan-made wine makes a great accompaniment. (231) 922-2114;

6) Traverse City beaches Sugar-soft sand and soaring dunes along the pristine Lake Michigan waters means the beaches on this 180-mile stretch are sure things. Clinch Park is the biggest and busiest beach, with a trail that connects to downtown, but it’s also worth checking out West End for beach volleyball and Bryant Park for sunset viewing. (231) 947-1120; 

7) Black Star Farms Part of the booming agritourism market, this destination blends a winery, restaurant, market and hiking area into one incredible attraction. Pamper yourself with an overnight stay in the luxurious inn (rates start from $150 in the low season), or just wander the gorgeous property, taste award-winning wines like the A Capella Pinot Noir and dine on farm to table cuisine. (231) 944-1270;

8) Leelanau State Park Perched at the northernmost tip of the Leelanau Peninsula, this waterfront park commands 1,300 acres of natural beauty. Enjoy it via rustic campsites, hiking and cross-country skiing trails, fishing areas, picnic facilities and other amenities. Tour Grand Traverse Lighthouse and Museum in the summer, and watch for  endangered piping plover birds on Cathead Bay. (231) 386-5422;

9) Cherry Republic There’s a satellite store in Traverse City, but for the full-on experience, head 25 miles northwest to the flagship winery-cafe-general store in Glen Arbor. Pace yourself! There’s a lot to browse and taste at this three-building facility, including wine, soda, hard cider, salsa, granola, mustard, chocolate and baked goods. Don’t even think about leaving without a slice of cherry pie a la mode.  (800) 206-6949;

10) Tamarack Lodge Dazzling views and direct access to Lake Michigan might overshadow these condos’ Arts and Crafts architecture and sophisticated furnishings. In-season rates start at $352 for a one-bedroom condo ($128 in winter), but the ambience, setting and service make Tamarack worth the splurge. (231) 938-9744;

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